We've seen them, heard about them, but how many of us have actually ventured into a cave? Probably not many, but it's never too late to plan a cave adventure, so why not make it one of the coolest? In scientific terms, a "cave or cavern is a natural underground space large enough for a human to enter. Caves form naturally by the weathering of rock and they often extend deep underground." Continue reading to see five of the coolest examples.
5. Obir Tropfsteinh Cave
At first glance, you may think you're looking at a sci-fi movie set, but it's actually the Obir Tropfsteinh cave in Eastern Austria. That's right, "scientists are also painstakingly mapping the movement of water through billions of years of rocks in the Alps of Austria - they use a fluorescent dye which can be traced through the underground reservoirs to the source."
British photographer Robbie Shone plunged hundreds of feet into the ground to accompany the scientists as they navigated the maze of giant crystals and rock formations. Robbie, 32, from Manchester, said: 'Caves are difficult, unforgiving and arduous environment. The cave is black with no light so you have to mind where you step.' Despite the dangers, Robbie crawled through cracks int he caves to capture the stunning images.
4. Blue Cave
One look at Croatia's mysterious blue cave and you'll think that you've entered a fantasy world. However, one thing you may not know is that it was only introduced "to the rest of the world in 1884, when a small entrance was blown-up in the side of one of its walls."
The best time to visit the Blue Cave of Bisevo is on a sunny day, between 11 am and 12 pm, when the sun rays penetrate the water and reflect off the limestone bottom of the cave, filling it with an incredibly beautiful blue light. It's a truly unique experience that makes visiting the Blue Cave totally worth it.
3. Marble Caves
These stunning marble caves, also known as the "Marble Cathedral", are located on General Carrera Lake in Patagonia, Chile. Wondering how the cave gets its blue hues? Well, the "light bounces into the caverns and strikes the carved marble walls, creating this enchanting lightshow."
To reach this remote place located in the far southern tip of Chile visitors must fly from the capital, Santiago, 800 miles to the next nearest large city, Coyhaique, and then drive on challenging dirt roads 200 miles south to the lake.
2. World's Largest Cave
Son Doong, located in Vietnam, is currently the world's largest cave. In addition to holding that title, this massive cave has a jungle inside, complete with waterfalls. It's "more than 200 meters wide, 150 meters high, and approx 9 kilometers long, with caverns big enough to fit an entire city street inside them."
The team found an underground river running through the first 1.6 miles (2.5 kilometers) of the limestone cavern, as well as giant stalagmites more than 230 feet (70 meters) high. The explorers surveyed Son Doong's size using laser-based measuring devices. Such modern technology allows caves to be measured to the nearest millimeter, said Andy Eavis, president of the International Union of Speleology, the world caving authority, based in France.
1. Cave of Crystals
From afar, this may actually look like Superman's Fortress of Solitude, but it's actually a real cave in Mexico. It's called the Cueva de los Cristales, or Cave of the Crystals, and famous for having the largest natural crystals in the world.
The largest crystal found to date here measures 36-feet in length, 13-feet in diameter, and weighs in at a hefty 55-tons. Inside this cave, explorers deal with temperatures of up to 136-degrees Fahrenheit at 90% - 99% humidity. Without the proper equipment, an average human can only safely be inside this cave for 10-minutes.
[Sources 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8]